Cloth Diapering 101

What Types of Cloth Diapers Are There?

Cloth diapering 101, what types are there?

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So you want to cloth diaper? I bet your first thought was, “Holy crap where do I start?” There is so much out there with cloth diapering that it is a bit overwhelming. I don’t know how many times I searched “differences between this and that diaper”. Well, I am going to go over every single type of cloth diaper.

First Let’s Go Over Some Lingo

  • PUL – It is a type of  of laminated fabric. PUL stands for Polyurethane Laminate. It is the water proof fabric part of a diaper.
  • Snappi – A snappi is a fastener that holds flats or prefolds together. It replaces the old fashion pin. No more poking baby.
  • Cover – A cover is the waterproof portion that goes over a flat, fitted, or prefold. They come in OS (one size) or fitted sizes.
  • OS – one size, meaning these diapers usually fit 7ibs-35ibs.

Flats and Covers

The least expensive of them all. Flats are these rectangles that are made of cotton. You fold these in many different ways depending on your baby’s needs. A good tutorial on how to fold flats can be found here.

Think of your grandmother’s diaper. This is it. It needs to be closed with a snappi. Thought they were closed with a pin? Nope, we have moved onto bigger and better things.

Now the cotton flat is not waterproof, so you’ll need a cover to keep your little one’s clothes dry. This goes over the flat.

Covers are usually made of PUL and fasten with snaps or velcro.

With flats you simply remove the flat and reuse the cover. Yep, you read that right. You can reuse the cover as long as it is not soiled.


Prefolds and Covers 

Prefolds are like flats, but they are folded into three sections and much smaller. You can either fold them into a trifold and lay them right into a cover, or fold them like you would a flat, then fasten them with a snappi. Prefolds must be used with a cover! Prefolds are great for the newborn stage.

Prefolds can be made with cotton or bamboo.

With prefolds you simply remove the prefold and reuse the cover. Yep, you read that right. You can reuse the cover as long as it is not soiled.


Pocket Diapers

Pocket diapers are the most popular and are considered dad and baby sitter friendly. There is no folding, cover, or snappi required. This diaper has an opening at the end in which you stuff an absorbent insert into.

They are usually OS, one size fits all. Fitting babies from 7ibs-35ibs. Diapers fasten with snaps or velcro. Snaps are used for the adjustment of size.

The inside of the pocket diaper is made of mircofleece, this touches your baby. The material is soft and won’t irritate your baby’s skin. This material wicks away moisture away from your baby. So with prefolds and flats you baby will still feel the moisture as the material doesn’t wick. Some babies are bothered and some are not.

Now the inserts. Inserts can be made of microfiber, hemp, bamboo, or cotton. I use hemp inserts and mircofiber. With mircofiber, don’t let this insert touch you baby’s skin as it is irritating. This is why you stuff the inserts, the mircofleece protects your baby’s skin.

The great thing about the pocket diaper is that you can customize the absorbency of the diaper. This means you can add more than one insert in the pocket for heavy wetters and nighttime.


All in One Cloth Diaper or AIOs

All-in-one cloth diapers are like disposables, without of course the disposing of. The whole diaper is all you need. Put on baby and wallah! No stuffing, folding, or cover required.  The only downfall is they take longer to dry.

These are another easy diaper to use. They are dad, baby sitter, and even day care friendly. They have absorbent material (the insert portion to so speak) sewn into the diaper cover.  The diapers may be made of natural or synthetic fibers.

Diapers can fasten with snaps or velcro. An AIO can come in OS or a sized diaper (this just means newborn size and up).


All in Two or Hybrid Diapers

All in two or Hybrid diapers  is a two part diapering system. Like most diapers it is made of a waterproof outer shell. The difference is that the inert can be detached. Just like a flat or a prefold system you can reuse the cover. 

Inserts either snap or tuck into the cover (depending on the brand). These allow you to customize for heavy wetters or night time by using different or extra inserts.

People like these because they are trim fitting. They are not as bulky as the all in one or pocket diaper.



Fitteds are like flats, but without the folding. Yep, they are “pre-folded” so to speak. The diapers fasten together with a snappi or snaps.

They are the shape of a diaper. They have elastic at the legs and waist that make for a snug, leak-proof fit. Some have snaps that make them easy to adjust as your baby grows.

Fitteds only provide absorbency, so they do require a cover. But with any system that uses covers, they can be reused if not soiled.

They are made with bamboo, cotton, or hemp.

Woah that was a lot of info!

It does seem like a lot. Now you are probably wondering, “Well, what one do I go with?” My advice get a little of each at first and see which works with your family and little one. This doesn’t mean to spend a fortune on each type, just sample before diving into a brand or type.

Some people start with covers, flats and/or prefolds for the newborn stage. Then eventually add pockets, AIOs, fitteds, or hybrids, when they figure out the needs of their little one.

Hope I helped clear some of the confusion!

Do you have any questions about any of the diapers above? Feel free to drop me a line at or comment below.


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